Archive for February, 2011

TED2011: The Rediscovery of Wonder

Monday, February 28th, 2011
TED2011: The Rediscovery of Wonder Happening this week in Long Beach. I'm at TEDActive in Palm Springs. It's going to be an amazing few days. This year's TED Prize Winner: JR. One Artist. One Wish to Change the World More in the coming days...

TED Favorites (let’s go with three)

Friday, February 25th, 2011
TED2008 Accepting his 2008 TED Prize, author Dave Eggers asks the TED community to personally, creatively engage with local public schools. TED2010 In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning -- creating conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish. TEDGlobal 2010 Designer Emily Pilloton moved to rural Bertie County, in North Carolina, to engage in a bold experiment of design-led community transformation. She's teaching a design-build class called Studio H that engages high schoolers' minds and bodies while bringing smart design and new opportunities to the poorest county in the state.

The Economic Injustice of Plastic

Thursday, February 24th, 2011
TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch Van Jones lays out a case against plastic pollution from the perspective of social justice. Because plastic trash, he shows us, hits poor people and poor countries "first and worst," with consequences we all share no matter where we live and what we earn. At TEDxGPGP, he offers a few powerful ideas to help us reclaim our throwaway planet.

Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
TEDWomen Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions -- and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite.

James H Kunstler Dissects Suburbia

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
TED2004 In James Howard Kunstler's view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about. (An oldie but a goodie.)

It’s Time to Redesign Medical Data

Monday, February 21st, 2011
TED2011 The Rediscovery of Wonder is coming up; February 28-March 4, 2011 in Long Beach. So this week, it's all TED all the time. At TEDMED 2010, Thomas Goetz, the executive editor of Wired, redesigns your medical chart.

Green Patriot Posters

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
[caption id="attachment_4074" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Green Patriot Posters the book edited by Dmitri Siegel & Edward Morris "][/caption] IMAGES FOR A NEW ACTIVISM Green Patriot Posters the book was released at the end of 2010, a year tied for the warmest on record with 1998 and 2005. The book brings together the strongest contemporary graphic design currently promoting sustainability and the fight against climate change at a time when one of America's political parties is looking to rewrite the Clean Air Act so that it can't be used to fight that very same climate change. The book showcases 50 posters selected from the project Website in detachable, ready to hang format. It's edited by Edward Morris and Dmitri Siegel and includes text by Michael Bierut, Thomas L. Friedman, Steven Heller, Edward Morris, Dmitri Siegel and Morgan Clendaniel. In addition to the site and the book, Cleveland saw bus adverts by Michael Beirut, Dorchester was home to a public art campaign and San Francisco had bus shelter placement thanks to some successful crowdfunding. [caption id="attachment_4075" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Green Patriot Posters {dot} ORG"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_4076" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Bierut Bus in Cleveland"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_4077" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Bike Your City Bus Shelter by Jason Hardy in San Francisco"][/caption] Green Patriot Posters Reinvigorate Environmental Message at Wired and the Destroy This Book excerpt can be found at Design Observer. Most People just don't get climate change. Few grasp the need and more important, the opportunity to transform our society. So the people who do get it need to be louder, more insistent and more effective at getting the message across. Certainly a very true statement. For our part, Jason and myself were both included in the book alongside some of the finest poster designers working today: Shepard Fairey, Joe Scorsone and Alice Drueding, Felix Sockwell and Jame Victore. Power to the Poster in general was well represented. [caption id="attachment_4082" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Inside spread"][/caption] Jason Hardy | Let's Ride
  • A bicycle is a beautifully simple machine. Two wheels, a frame, and a crank — that's all you need. So I wanted to make a simple poster celebrating one of those key components — the wheel. The call to action is simple: Let's Ride. I chose a light green for the background to touch on the environmental benefits of cycling and also because, as we all know, green means go. Cutting carbon can be fun, too — get a crew and let's ride!
[caption id="attachment_4083" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Let's Ride by Jason Hardy"][/caption] Justin Kemerling | (Re)Make America
  • I think about the idea of America a lot. The history of things. How we got here and where we want to go. It's been a long process in working towards becoming the land of opportunity with freedom and justice for all, and the whole bit. And we have such a long way to go. It’s brick by brick. It’s DIY. So pick up your talents and get to it. Until your hands hurt. This image of the “America in bricks” found it’s way into my design work, really speaking to the idea that many parts make a whole. Optimistic. Hopeful. Good reason to get your hands calloused.
[caption id="attachment_4084" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="(Re)Make America by Justin Kemerling"][/caption] The book itself is a perfect combination of beautiful design and sustainable production. From the back cover:
  • Every effort was made to produce this book in the most sustainable way possible. The trim size and page count were chosen to minimize waste; the book was printed using 100% wind power on paper made from 100% post-consumer waste fiber; and it was printed in the U.S.A. to reduce fuel consumption in shipping. Yes, this cost more. But suck it up. It's worth it.
Published by Metropolis Books. 9.5 x 12.5 in. / 128 pgs / 50 tear-out posters and available for purchase at Artbook for $30. [caption id="attachment_4091" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="WWII era posters: project inspiration."][/caption] This project, and many others like it, are so very important. Especially at a very contentious time, when taking on Climate Change just isn't an issue many Americans are interested in addressing. It's all Economy all of the time. And half of our elected officials don't even think Climate Change is a) caused by our human use of fossil fuels, or worse yet b) happening at all. This project is directly inspired from World War II era posters that called for collective action, for the nation to come together to fight a common enemy. But if it was today's America that had to fight that war, I'm not so sure we'd do very well, especially with the coming together part. [caption id="attachment_4094" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="WWII era posters: more inspiration. "][/caption] These messages coming from our leadership today; to be wise, careful, to use leftovers and to grow your own food would not stand. The cries of communism and socialism and conspiratorial leftist plots would abound. They pretty much do whenever any government initiative is undertaken. Remember the backlash to Michelle Obama's wonderful organic garden; it just needs to get off our back and leave us to our God-given right to be fat, lazy and drive up health care costs faster than you can say high-fructose corn syrup. But as communication design efforts on many fronts take on what really matters; raising money for doctors in Haiti, advocating an end to the death penalty, calling out the imperative of reversing the push into poverty by so many in this great recession, things do change. Money gets raised, public opinion becomes more compassionate, communities come together. These projects shine a light in a compelling way on the issues we need to be thinking about very seriously. It's design as a way to shout how things need to be and what we want our future to look like. And, of course, they inspire the creation of a sustainable movement for a green tomorrow which is a very American, very patriotic thing to do. You can call sustainability a movement. There are signs that things are getting better. We might even be approaching sustainability as "the way things must be because that's the way it is," with complete infiltration into every aspect of everything -- energy, food, buildings, transportation, and on and on. It's as if a grand realization is upon us. Deep down we know we can't carry on like this. With such levels of pollution, inequality and injustice, we'll all collectively have the "aha" moment, get a grip and use our vast quantities of creativity to remake America and our world community into a bright place for everyone to call home. With hot years and heated debates about the action we need to take, we need more projects like Green Patriot Posters -- more vision from creative individuals to inspire us along the way to that sustainable future. Otherwise, it could be the rising tides that sink all ships. For now, you can buy this book, destroy this book and pick a side because the tone of the debate and the levels of action needed are only going to get more intense. And we do indeed need to get louder, more insistent and more effective at getting the message across. -- Justin Kemerling, Designer. PRESS: The Guardian UK, January 25, 2011 Wired, November 15, 2010: PBS News Hour, Art Beat, January 6, 2011: Metropolis Mag, October 20, 2010: Design Observer, November 22, 2010: GOOD, December 15, 2010 Le Monde, October 30, 2010

Design’s Real Potential

Friday, February 11th, 2011
  • transparent (complex problems require simple, clear, and honest solutions); inspiring (successful solutions will move people by satisfying their needs, giving meaning to their lives, and raising their hopes and expectations); transformational (exceptional problems demand exceptional solutions that may be radical and even disruptive); participatory (effective solutions will be collaborative, inclusive, and developed with the people who will use them); contextual (no solution should be developed or delivered in isolation but should instead recognize the social, physical, and information systems it is part of); and sustainable (every solution needs to be robust, responsible, and designed with regard to its long-term impact on the environment and society).


Monday, February 7th, 2011
In late January of 2011 I had the pleasure of giving a talk for the Art Directors Association of Iowa in Des Moines. Katie and I made the trip from Omaha. We totally had a great time and it was very nice to meet all the creative folks from the area. (Thanks for listening, and thanks for buying some prints.) And damn, we went through the super impressive wind farms of western Iowa. It was like seeing the future, one where you could still breathe the air. The gist of the talk was on Work. I've been an independent designer since July of last year. It's work that I really enjoy doing and I wanted share the framework I've put together to help guide it as I move forward. As of now, the structure of my practice consists of four parts: 1. Project/Client Work (Traditional Graphic Design) 2. Volunteer Design (Design as Community-Building) 3. Collaborations (Design as Extracurriculars) and 4. Self-Initiated Projects (Design as Art/Entrepreneurship). Taking all of these together, I’m good with designer for the answer to the question, “what kind of Work do you do?” It's more than acceptable for someone who, when I was a youngster, fit into the category of people unable to answer the all important question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And as I have a VERY hard time deciding on what to do at any given moment, designer is definitely doable. It allows for me to "mix it up," which is a huge benefit. I made this diagram when I turned 30. This helps explain things: [caption id="attachment_4172" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Why a Designer?"][/caption] Lately, I’ve been thinking about work a lot. Not only my work and what I do, but the nature of work. What kind of jobs exist in our economy? What would I do if I wasn’t a designer? What is meaningful work? What would I do if the work all dried up, what then in all of this uncertainty, in the worst economy of the last 50 years? Economy, economy, economy was the driving force in the November mid-terms. The official unemployment rate is just under 10%. Uncertainty abounds. Students I talk to are terrified of their job prospects. Twenty-seven million people are un- or underemployed in America today. And I have the great privilege to do something I enjoy every day. Because of course, it’s not all uncertainty. There’s also opportunity and discovery. Big rewards for big risks. Change, excitement, renewal. It’s an extraordinary time we live in, and you don’t have to look far to see all the amazing things happening. So for me, with this great privilege I’ve found myself in after I’ve “grown up,” to be doing work I like, partnering with exciting people every day on a wide array of creative projects, some kind of guide is crucial -- a framework that will help keep my work on an intended path. A manifesto, if you will. So for 2011, here is my very much work-in-progress (with various shout-outs), 11-point mini-manifesto on what I want living and working as a designer to mean in these days of uncertainty and opportunity. I WANT TO DO WORK THAT... 1. is part of things, 2. experiments, 3. delights, 4. is optimistic, 5. gives a damn, 6. is community-minded, 7. moves people to action, 8. points us in a direction, 9. picks a side / annoys certain people, 10. makes things better, 11. has heart, Work that feels like a natural extension of who I am, that is pushing boundaries and trying new things, putting smiles on people’s faces in unexpected ways and speaking to the better angels of our nature. Work that cares, is informed and speaks to the larger world around us. (I guess I’ve been to too many “graphic design” get togethers that seem so unaware of life outside “the profession.”) Work focused on my community where I live and call home. (Part of the push for a new economy built around local.) Work that is action-oriented, outside of consumer logic and more social or political. Work that is part of the debate in terms of how we move forward and is not neutral but is certainly part of a particular view point. Work that advocates for the side of opportunity and renewal that is out there and sometimes only needs a little push. And finally, I want to do work that has heart. (Unable to define. Will mean different things to different people.) I've been a designer for 8+ years. The Work I look back on that I really love, both paid and unpaid, fits nicely into this framework and covers each point quite well. (The specifics are detailed in the Talk.) Now, it's a matter of doing that, and only that, over and over again. Finding more of this type of Work, and turning down the other stuff that just doesn't fit. The great balancing act of holding true to the meaning while keeping the compromise to a minimum. I'm 8 months in, and with a few hiccups and detours, things are moving along at a good pace. The only thing left to do is keep on keepin' on. -- Justin Kemerling, Designer.

Haiti’s Story Told with Posters

Friday, February 4th, 2011
HOW Magazine's Blog features The Haiti Poster Project, now with over 510 artists:
  • Over a year ago, in the wake of a tragedy, designers and artists were called to action by The Haiti Poster Project. Limited edition posters are donated and signed by their creators, and funds from their sales benefit Doctors without Borders for Haiti’s relief efforts.